Monday, May 26, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
I find it particularly unethical when a corporation purports to be something that it’s not, especially regarding concern for animals, the environment, workers, etc. Such is the case with Chipotle Mexican Grill, a chain of “fast-casual” restaurants across the United States.
A substantial portion of Chipotle’s website is devoted to its “Food With Integrity” philosophy, which is described as food that is “better tasting, coming from better sources, better for the environment, better for the animals, and better for the farmers who raise the animals and grow the produce.” Other sections of the site boast of “naturally raised” artisanal and organic meats free of added hormones; tout “sustainable practices”, “family-farmed”, “seasonal”; and describe working with dairy suppliers to eliminate synthetic growth hormones in their sour cream.
In the section titled “Steve’s Vision” founder and CEO Steve Ells recounts opening his first Chipotle in Denver in 1993, and how at the time he had no idea that the number of restaurants would eventually grow to several hundred. He expresses his love for cooking and the challenge it represents. He mentions that he continually strives to improve things.
Then he describes how he learned about factory farms by reading an issue of a newsletter written by food writer Ed Behr that focused on Niman Ranch, and an Iowa hog farmer named Paul Willis who “raised pigs the old-fashioned way.” He delves into the cruel practices of factory farming and contrasts them with what he calls “old school animal husbandry naturally raised”, which his company has embraced to “help create a more sustainable food chain that emphasizes the welfare of people, animals, and the land.”
Ells says that “Learning about this dark side of modern agriculture made me want to find out how we could do things differently.” But incredibly, he doesn’t seem to consider the killing of animals to be part of that “dark side”.
The company now buys most of its meat from several small niche-market suppliers, who avoid the use of antibiotics, and provide their animals with more space, better bedding, and vegetarian feed.
While it doesn’t surprise me, I think it’s horrific that Chipotle suggests to people on its website, in its advertising, and on its in-store menu boards, that they are doing something conscientious, or morally superior, by eating cows, pigs, and chickens that have been enslaved in a somewhat nicer way before being sent off to their deaths.
Chipotle commodifies these animals by referring to their flesh as “artisanal” or “organic”, as if it were talking about loaves of bread or bottles of wine. By framing the exploitation in the contexts of “naturally raised” and “Food With Integrity”, Chipotle rakes in profits as it attracts customers who are perfectly willing to spend more money to eat “humanely raised” animals without guilt.
The company claims that “Food With Integrity” isn’t a marketing slogan, but that’s precisely what it is. Because if Chipotle was really concerned about the welfare of animals (or the health of the environment), they wouldn’t have them on the menu.
This is an example of how the promotion of “happy meat” at best perpetuates animal exploitation, and at worst, increases it. Not only does Chipotle offer the public absolutely nothing in the way of incentives to stop eating animals, it provides insincere reasons for them to continue to consume them as usual.
Ells wraps up by writing: “we know that at the end of the day, we can't judge our own integrity. That's for our customers to decide.” Well here’s one customer who’s decided that Chipotle’s “Food With Integrity” philosophy, lacks integrity.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
My favorite post is the most recent one, dated May 2, 2008, and titled Letter From A Vegan World. In this powerful piece, Lucus describes in detail the physical and emotional suffering that animals raised under “humane farming practices," are only vaguely aware of. Lucus criticizes the welfarist mentality that pushes “humane” meat, dairy, and eggs, and seeks reformed exploitation; justified by the idea that social change in the form of a vegan world, won’t emerge anytime soon, if ever. She writes that such thinking represents “a fear of action, a failure of will, a self-defeating attitude and, ultimately, a self-fulfilling prophesy.”
I could not agree more. Her words offer me hope. I’ve been looking around for some progressive animal protection organizations to donate to. I’ve decided that Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary will be one of them.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
People who live with companion animals recognize that the canine or feline members of their household have unique personalities and rich emotional lives. They think of these animals as nonhuman persons. But the animals whose flesh and secretions end up on the kitchen table, and the animals whose skin and hair cover furniture and hang in closets, are cognitively just like cats and dogs. There is no difference.
The bad news is that we have a huge moral inconsistency going on here. The good news is that it’s relatively simple and easy to fix.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
The Chicago Diner, a vegetarian restaurant in
I went to their web site a couple days ago to purchase a gift certificate. That’s when I noticed their new “MEAT SUCKS” t-shirts for sale. Immediately I recognized that the stylized text printed on these shirts conveyed a morally confusing message. “MEAT SUCKS” implies by omission that dairy and eggs don’t suck, that these other animal products that most of us eat are morally more acceptable, and that removing them from our diets, or removing them from the restaurant’s menu, is somehow not as important.
But the reality is that animals used for their milk and eggs are enslaved, tortured, and ultimately killed, just like the animals whose flesh is eaten. Milk and egg production on the scale required to meet global market demand, is seriously detrimental to the environment. From a health standpoint, there is little difference between meat, dairy, and eggs, the consumption of which has been linked to a host of degenerative diseases.
Yes indeed, meat sucks! But so does dairy, eggs, and all other forms of animal exploitation.
The six principles of the Abolitionist Approach to animal rights may be read here.